Depending on where you are right now, you may be within a room designed by an interior designer. Your office was likely designed by an interior designer. Maybe you even paid a designer to decide how your home should look, too.
The work of interior designers is everywhere. They are the people who decide how our indoor spaces, from shops to offices, should look. If you find yourself drawing sketches of rooms in your spare time or creating color palettes for your ideal house, then maybe a career in interior design is right for you.
While degrees are not a requirement for many jobs in interior design, they can help you distinguish yourself from different designers. In a degree program, you’ll cover the foundational knowledge you need to become a successful interior designer.
In this article, we’re going to break down the top five online interior design degree programs that different colleges and universities offer. We’ll discuss the background of these programs, how much they charge and what you can expect to learn in each online course.
Online Interior Design Degree Rankings in 2020
Online interior design degrees have become incredibly popular over the past few years.
With an online degree, you are given more flexibility over your studies. This is because many classes and learning resources have been prepared ahead of time. This means online students are able to do a lot of studying on your own schedule. In addition, because you’re studying online, you can do your coursework from anywhere.
If you’re thinking about enrolling in an online interior design degree program, you may be asking yourself which one is the best. Below is a list of the top five online interior design degree programs to help you decide which program may be right for you.
#1: Academy of Art University
- Degree: Online Interior Architecture and Design Degree
- Tuition: $1,011 / unit
- Duration: 4 years
The Academy of Art University offers an online program in interior architecture and design. The school is accredited by the National Council for Interior Design Accreditation. They offer the most prestigious accreditation in the United States for interior design degrees.
As part of your studies, you’ll cover a wide range of topics. For instance, you’ll study the design process and how to go from research to presentation when developing a real-world design. You’ll also learn sustainable design, conceptual design and more. During the program, you will also prepare a portfolio which will serve as proof of your interior design abilities. This portfolio can be used to showcase your skills to employers after you graduate.
Companies like Hirsch Bedner Associates, Gensler and The Puccini Group have all hired students from the Academy of Art University.
#2: Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
- Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design
- Tuition: $518 / credit
- Duration: 4 years
The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD), whose first core belief is “our students come first,” offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design course.
As a student in this program, you’ll study topics such as construction document contracts, interior materials and systems, space planning and computer-aided design. Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared for a range of jobs in the interior design field, from product designer to retail designer.
RMCAD offers all its students access to free digital resources. These resources include LinkedIn Learning and Adobe Creative Cloud. Students can also access a supply bank that you can use if you’re running low on materials that you need to finish your assignments.
#3: Savannah College of Art and Design
- Degree: Master of Arts in Interior Design
- Tuition: $518 / credit
- Duration: 2 years
- Credit Requirement: 180 credits
The Savannah College of Art and Design offers an interior design online program at the master’s level. In 2019, the school received the number one ranking on Designintelligence’s list of top undergraduate and graduate interior design programs. That makes it the seventh time the school has ranked number one on the list.
This program offers classes covering topics such as emerging interior materials, research methods for interior design and contemporary issues in interior design. You’ll also be given an opportunity to participate in an undergraduate or graduate internship as an elective.
#4: University of Nebraska
- Degree: Master of Science in Architecture
- Tuition: $440.03 / credit (in-state); $902 / credit (out-of-state)
The University of Nebraska offers a Master’s of Science in Architecture with the option to specialize in interior design. This course offers a deep dive into the principles of architecture alongside the ability to explore how it relates to interior design.
In this program, you’ll study various topics about interior design. These topics include the changing workplace, color in the built environment, contemporary architecture, and behavioral and social factors in environmental design behavior. This prepares students to have a well-rounded understanding of interior design. With this knowledge, you can apply to a wide range of different careers related to interior design and architecture.
#5: Chatham University
- Degree: Master of Science in Interior Architecture
- Tuition: $987 / credit
- Credit Requirement: 30 credits
Chatham University offers a Master of Science in Interior Architecture program. This is a natural next step after gaining an undergraduate education in interior design or architecture.
As a student in this program, you’ll be introduced to many concepts related to architectural and design theory. You’ll discuss seminal texts to deepen your understanding of this theory, and to help you make links between historical trends and current design features. You’ll also discuss issues in interior architecture like sustainability and globalization, which will give you a well-rounded understanding of current interior design trends.
Students in this program have the opportunity to teach a class in interior architecture while being supervised by a faculty member. This is a great opportunity to reinforce the skills you’ve learned in class and develop your communication skills.
Online Interior Design Degree Offerings
Interior design is an industry that involves a lot of creativity. The best way to become an interior designer is to get as much practice as you can. That’s where a degree program comes in.
In an interior design degree program, you’ll learn what you need to know to kickstart your career in interior design. In these programs, you’ll be given ample opportunities to practice your skills. There are three main types of interior design degrees you can earn, which are:
- Associate Degree
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Master’s Degree
Online Interior Design Associate Degree
An associate degree is the minimum level of education available in interior design. In an associate degree program, you’ll learn the fundamental skills needed to design the interiors of buildings. This ranges from building systems to basic design principles.
Online Interior Design Associate Degree Entry Requirements
You’ll need a high school diploma or an equivalent certification to enroll in an online interior design associate degree. You may also have to submit a portfolio of work to serve as proof of your artistic aptitude.
Online Interior Design Associate Degree Curriculum
Interior design is an interdisciplinary field, drawing on principles from fine art, architecture, design and information technology. The exact courses that you can expect to cover will depend on the program in which you enroll.
Here are a few courses you can expect at the associate’s level of an interior design degree:
- Color Theory: In this course, you’ll learn about the color palette, the color wheel and how colors interact to create visual experiences.
- Design Principles: In this course, you’ll learn how people work in the spaces around them and how changes in an environment’s design affects our productivity and happiness.
- Drawing and Composition: You’ll learn different types of drawing and composition, and how these apply in the context of interior design.
- Sustainable Design: Sustainable design covers environmentally friendly designs. You’ll learn how different materials impact the environment. Further, you’ll discover approaches you can use to make designs more eco-friendly when implemented in the real world.
Online Interior Design Associate Degree Progression
An associate degree in interior design will prepare you for entry-level roles in interior design.
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If you decide to work as an interior designer, you’ll likely end up working at an interior design agency. This is a type of business that provides consulting services to people and businesses who need advice on the design of a building’s interior.
On the other hand, you could use your associate’s degree to gain an entry-level position in an architectural firm or for a construction company.
Many associate degree graduates go on to attain a bachelor’s degree in interior design. This further education prepares them for more competitive positions in the field of interior design.
Online Interior Design Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree in interior design will give you more detailed insight into the field of interior design. You’ll dive deeper into topics such as design principles than you would in an associate degree program. Further, you’ll explore new topics such as the history of interior design and different styles of interior design.
Online Interior Design Bachelor’s Degree Entry Requirements
You’ll need a high school diploma or an equivalent certification to enter an online interior design bachelor’s degree program. You may also be required to meet a minimum GPA level and submit a portfolio of work to demonstrate your artistic skills.
Online Interior Design Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum
The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in interior design will cover all the aspects of an associate degree toward the start of the program. You’ll discuss color theory, elements of design, design principles and other fundamental topics.
Your courses will also focus on developing a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts of design and interior architecture. You’ll study different design trends and what designs have been used in different areas of buildings. For instance, you may take courses on kitchen design and bedroom design, which both have unique design considerations.
You’ll also be given the opportunity to choose an area of specialty for your degree. For instance, you may specialize in sustainable design or accessible design for people with disabilities. This will help you develop the skills you need to enter a specialist area of interior design when you graduate.
Online Interior Design Bachelor’s Degree Progression
A bachelor’s degree is sufficient to enter many roles in the interior design industry. You’ll likely start your career as an assistant or junior interior designer. Then, you’ll work your way up to become a senior interior designer or design director as you progress.
Some bachelor’s degree holders then pursue a master’s degree, which provides advanced training in interior design.
Online Interior Design Master’s Degree
An interior design master’s degree will prepare you for a career in a specialized area of interior design. These programs typically take two years to complete and consist of 40 credits.
Online Interior Design Master’s Degree Entry Requirements
You will need a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related subject such as art in order to be accepted into a master’s degree program. Many programs also ask for you to submit an art or design portfolio to prove your creative skills.
Online Interior Design Master’s Degree Curriculum
A master’s degree in interior design may be focused on interior design or may be part of a broader degree such as fine arts. In either case, you’ll learn about the theories behind how interior spaces are designed.
In an interior design master’s degree program, you’ll cover courses such as the history of design, home design, computer graphics and more. These courses will prepare you for the range of different design work that you could be expected to complete as an interior designer.
Completing a master’s degree usually involves submitting a thesis alongside a portfolio of work that you have developed across your studies. The thesis is usually an original interior design for a particular space in a building.
Online Interior Design Master’s Degree Progression
A master’s degree in interior design will prepare you to work in a range of environments. This range includes working in a private interior design studio to an architecture firm.
What is Interior Design?
Have you ever examined a room and thought it was well-designed? If so, it’s likely that an interior designer was involved in creating the design for that room. Many of the restaurants you have been to, the libraries you’ve visited and the houses been in were designed by an interior designer.
Interior designers spend their days coming up with ways to make a room look aesthetically pleasing. They’ll determine the color palette for a room and decide how different objects should be placed within a room. They’ll also make sure that everything in a room comes together to create a cohesive and matching design.
What Can You Do With an Interior Design Degree?
The natural path of progression from an interior design degree program is to become an interior or spatial designer.
With that said, your degree can prepare you for a range of other jobs related to interior design. Here are a few career options available to interior design degree graduates:
- Interior Designer: Interior designers are involved with the design and renovation of internal spaces. They’ll get to know a client’s needs and the needs of people who will use a space before making decisions. Those decisions include the color of an interior, its structure, furnishings, lighting and more.
- Visual Merchandiser: Visual merchandisers promote retail brands, products and services both in-store and online. Some visual designers work with museums and galleries to create visual concepts for events.
- Exhibition Designer: Exhibition designers liaise with clients to create public exhibitions. These may be for trade shows, conferences, industry events or cultural exhibitions for museums and galleries.
- Furniture Designer: Furniture designers produce designs for items of furniture such as beds, wardrobes and tables. They’ll study and research different furniture design trends and come up with designs for furniture items that meet certain specifications.
Career Prospects for Interior Design Degree Graduates
Earning an interior design degree will position you well for a career in interior design.
Jobs in interior design offer high salaries, especially as you develop more work experience. With the more experience you have, the more intuition you’ll develop. You will then have expanded your portfolio of designs that you can show to clients.
Some interior designers choose to work for existing studios. This means that you’ll likely work as a collaborator on interior design projects and command a salary in exchange for your work. However, many experienced designers opt to start their own studios, which gives them more control over their work and may unlock higher salaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are a few interior design salaries that you are able to get with a degree:
- Interior Designer: $56,040 (median)
- Industrial Designer: $68,890 (median)
- Merchandise Displayers: $30,940 (average)
- Set and Exhibit Designer: $61,020 (average)
Do I Need an Interior Design Degree?
Pursuing a degree is a big investment, both in terms of the money you’ll spend toward your education and the time it will take to earn the degree. So, you may be asking: do I really need a degree in interior design?
If you want to work as an interior designer, you’ll almost certainly need a degree in interior design. This is because jobs in interior design are competitive and also require a high degree of knowledge on the subject matter. However, if you are looking to enter another artistic job, you may not need a degree depending on the field in which you want to specialize.
Do you enjoy thinking about how the interior of a room could be improved? Have you found yourself daydreaming about the perfect light fixture for your kitchen? If this describes you, then maybe an interior design online degree is a good investment for you.
A growing number of people are starting to study interior design online. Online programs provide the same knowledge that you’d learn in a classroom-based course, but come with the benefit of more flexibility over your schedule and where you study.
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